This line is the provocative lead-in on the cover of April’s Decanter magazine, and before I’d even got to page 46 it had my mind racing. Where would you start? What an absurd – no, disturbing idea! You can’t pick a favourite wine any more than you can pick a favourite child, I tell anyone that asks the question!
But interestingly, let the question sink in for a bit and it does trigger an enlightening series of questions into your deepest wine-drinking preferences. What’s particularly provocative is that it’s not the classic ‘what’s your desert island wine?’. It’s much more profound than that. If you could only drink one wine. Ever again.
Firstly, red or white? Or rosé or sparkling? Or sherry, or port, or another fortified wine? Dry or sweet, or somewhere in between? New World or Old World? Do you have a country of origin that you could spend the rest of your wine-drinking life in? Or a single grape that you could pick over any other?
What was fascinating was the variety of responses from the Decanter contributors to whom the question was posed. Of 16 experts, not one chose a Bordeaux and only two plumped for Burgundy, despite the magazine constantly having to defend accusations of bias for the world’s two most famous wine regions.
Only half of the panel selected wine in the traditional sense – red or white – five red, three white. As many chose Champagne as chose red wine, with the final three opting for fortifieds, two for sherry, one for a personal favourite of mine, Madeira.
My own process of deduction took me through, in order:
- Colour – white, just. The finest wines I’ve ever tasted have been red, but the wine I couldn’t live without most is white.
- Grape – it just has to be Riesling. Chardonnay offers variety, Sauvignon Blanc gets my juices going, I love good Chenin, Pinot Gris, Marsanne, Roussanne, Albarino, Viognier… but Riesling has the structure, the sweetness, the finesse, the ageing capacity, and the ability to match with so many foods, that I feel it’s the one I’d miss most.
- Region. Oh dear. I mean, it’s not like Riesling can be grown anywhere, so the choice is actually relatively limited. But you’ve the homeland of Germany and the Mosel, neighbouring Alsace, fabulous New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Oregon…
OK, I’ve decided. If I could only drink one wine ever again it would be delectable, adaptable, majestic Riesling from Alsace.
So what’s yours? Give us a country, a region, a grape, even a specific label – go on, if there was only one…
You mentioned madeira and I thought, yes, that would be it. I have a stash of 10 year old Blandys Rich Malmsey which is the perfect accompaniment to my cranberry biscotti. I would eat biscotti and drink madeira while consoling myself about never being able to drink any other types of wine again :)
Nerd question for nerds I fear. Must be for me then! Must be sipping wine. What’s the point in rushing down to the last sip? I’m afraid my Sagrantino would be oxidised before I got to he bottom of the glass, I can’t sip Verdejo and the Champers would be toasted flat Pinot before I finished so it’s got to be sherry. Fino or dry Oloroso. Now there’s a hard choice! Desert Island? Well, Fino wins then. Must be chilled and MUST be Lustau.
Funny, the three experts who chose fortified wines mentioned the sip-ability factor. Don’t know, I’m afraid Riesling the all-rounder still wins it for me.
Your Blandys Malmsey sounds delish though Spud.
Definitely a nerdy debate but it is an interesting nerdy debate!
Have to say the current one would be the 2005 Amon Ra from Ben Glaetzer. Had it over Christmas and it knocked my socks off. Simply magnificent.
Desert island wine maybe :)